I would like to extend a warm welcome to Andrew Baxter, who has recently accepted the status of ‘Agent’ and is now reporting for duty from the Midlands Section.
Agent Baxter has got off to a great start with a clutch of CV and OX trees, and has also opened the catalogues in NN and PO. He spots trees whilst out and about with his work. His first tree is OX4 at Edge Hill House, confusingly in Warwickshire but with an OX postcode.
And it is from the ‘Marton News’ that Agent Baxter also sent me, that I find out a very interesting piece of monkey puzzle related information. In the article ‘Diamond Jubilees and Monkey Puzzles’ I discover that for Queen Victoria’s 60 year jubilee in 1897, monkey puzzle trees were planted in some churchyards to mark the occasion. And this one in Marton could have been one of those. I had not heard this before and this would certainly make sense for a number of large trees (that I have estimated to be just over 100 year old) seen in churchyards.
And Agent Baxter’s next find was another one of these ‘churchyard’ trees:
A very fine specimen at The Church of St Gregory in Offchurch, CV11, a lovely church. And a nice reminder here too: DO NOT FORGET TO LIVE. Indeed.
Nearby in the village Andrew found CV12 in a back garden. And another ‘churchyard’ monkey:
This is at Middle Tyson, which is charmingly located in between Lower Tyson and Upper Tysoe. And there’s more… another churchyard monkey in nearby Alcester (which Andrew tells me is pronounced All-ster, oh how I do love English place names!) Andrew also tells me this is lovely little town to visit with lots of old style shops – and I do like the fact that I get to find out about other places through this blog, thanks for that. This tree is in the B postcode area, B12.
I can immediately think of a number of monkey puzzle trees that are in churchyards and graveyards that are of this sort of age – Highnam in Gloucestershire (several trees here); Flaybrick Cemetery in Bidston; several in South Wales – Chepstow Cemetery, Rhymney Cemetery, Dukestown Cemetery (two trees); and in Scotland in Western Arbroath Cemetery (several trees) and Eastern Necropolis in Dundee. I have written before about the link between monkey puzzle trees and graveyards – The gloomy gymnosperm – and it’s interesting to hear about the link with Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee.
And for those of you who might be tempted to visit Warwickshire, Andrew also told me about The Rollright Stones, an ancient stone circle made from limestone.
Anyway, I digress, but find all this local information to be absolutely fascinating. Agent Baxter’s other finds are NN1 in Silverstone, and NN2 in Daventry, and OX5 in delightfully named village of Thorpe Mandeville. He also sent a tree in Monkey Puzzle Close in Stroud, knowing that I was in Stroud this weekend. There are a couple of ‘Monkey Puzzle’ addresses in the catalogue, and it’s nice to see this tree preserved with new houses built around it.
Whilst in Stroud I visited Westonbirt Arboretum, a magnificent place in its own right, but currently ‘Enchanted’, and yes we did find some monkey puzzle trees there too, well done Agent Gemma for spotting them. You can see more about my trip on Ronnie’s blog – here – and here’s an enchanted tree photo.
And to finish, for now, with Agent Baxter’s finds, we have the most northerly monkey puzzle tree. Andrew went to a talk at his local astronomy club from someone who had been to Spitzbergen, to view the total eclipse of the sun in March 2015. Spitzbergen is 400 miles north of mainland Norway, a cold land of ice and snow with spectacular scenery. The talk included some slides of Tromso, at the top of Norway, where the airport is that connects to Spitzbergen. He showed that Tromso, although well north of the Arctic Circle, had trees! This caused Andrew to wonder if there were any monkey puzzle trees in Norway, possibly even in Tromso…. and indeed there are.
The most northerly monkey in the world is in Tromso Botanical Garden, pictured below with garden leader Arve Elvebakk, NO1. (It’s quite small). The previous title holder is in the front garden of Bjorn Thon, NO2, and although growth was reported as slow, only 10cm after 10 years, you can see that it is doing well.
So two very northerly monkeys, and all because Agent Baxter day-dreamed during a talk on a solar eclipse. So thanks to Andrew for his finds and welcome to the Monkey Map team.
I have received a lot of trees lately – thanks to everyone who sent them, I will get to cataloguing all of them in due course. In the meantime, DO NOT FORGET TO LIVE.
This ‘Monkey Map’ project is a personal project and the work of me, Sarah Horton.
I am helped by my task of cataloguing all monkeys by keen monkey puzzle hunters who also do this in their free time.
It is a work of personal passion and brings me great joy. Thank you everyone for your support.